This article differentiates between three ways in which electoral cycles may impact on participation in elections. First, it identifies a simultaneity effect - turnout increases to the extent that elections are held on the same date. A second effect is voter fatigue - turnout declines when another election has just been held before. Poll voting is a third effect. It suggests that turnout increases when another election is to be held shortly after. On the basis of a novel dataset that includes 2,915 regional elections held in 317 regions and 18 countries from 1945 to 2009, evidence is found for all three effects. The results point towards a basic dilemma in multilevel electoral systems: increase turnout by holding elections on the same date but accept high vote congruence across elections or decouple election cycles, which decreases vote congruence but lowers participation rates.